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In my junior year of engineering school, I happened to encounter an article about gender specific statistics in various walks of life. I remember being flabbergasted the moment I read the numbers that described women employed in technical professions. I was so shocked that I had to go back multiple times to make sure that what I was reading was indeed true. I went on other sites and verified the statistics over and over again. All over the country, girls are graduating with engineering degrees every single year and yet the huge disparity between the percentage of male employees against the female employees in engineering fields left me baffled.
The astoundingly low number was even more surprising to me especially since I study in an all women’s engineering school. I am surrounded by hundreds of other girls who are pursuing a degree in engineering and majoring in diverse fields like mechanical engineering, software engineering, telecommunication, instrumentation, etc. Most of them are doing well at school and graduating with decent grades.
So what exactly is happening during the transition between graduation and employment? Where is all this talent draining out? What can be done to ensure a better gender ratio in engineering and related industries? Where do we start? How can I help? These are the very questions that got me thinking and inspired to delve deeper into this issue. Around this time, while I was searching for opportunities to help answer my questions, I stumbled upon SWE – the Society of Women Engineers. I read up about them and felt an instant connection with the objectives of the organization. As luck would have it, one of my professors, who had heard me talk about the issue, informed me that my school was planning to have a SWE Affiliate of its own. Without second thought, I decided to hop onto the bandwagon and be as involved as possible.
Without a doubt, having an Affiliate on campus has been extremely enlightening. Everyone has welcomed the decision with open arms and the overwhelming response I witnessed from my colleagues is testimony to the fact they were just waiting for a banner like SWE to come together and address these issues.
The entire process of laying the foundation bricks of a SWE Affiliate, the first one in an all women’s college all over the country, has been exhilarating. When I look around my class, I see potential Chief Technical Officers, and Vice Presidents and Managers of Engineering divisions of Multinational Corporations and successful entrepreneurs in the field of technology. But the thought of this dream remaining unrealized merely due to lack of proper guidance scares me. Without the right kind of coaching, this and many such wonderful, talented young ladies might not be able to fully exploit their technical prowess to reach the pinnacle. I believe SWE does exactly that by connecting students and fresh graduates with industry experts to help them draw their career map.
Another objective of SWE I tremendously respect is the work they do to inspire young girls to not only enroll in engineering related courses but also to pursue a career in it. Through their various programs, SWE carves a niche about technical fields in the minds of these school-going girls and compels them to strongly consider it as a way of life. I am looking forward to implementing similar kinds of programs in schools around the city and inspiring these budding young engineers to innovate and become successful leaders. I believe that every girl counts, so guiding them towards a path of a flourishing future in technology should be our top most priority and SWE helps us to do exactly that.
Being a part of SWE gives me a chance to do my part in helping to straighten out the skewed gender ratio in engineering industries. Even more special, this is the first year of the the SWE Cummins College of Engineering for Women Affiliate in Pune, India, and being able to build it from bottom up is truly a privilege that my professors have bestowed upon me. Although right now we are at a very nascent stage, I see incredible things for the Affiliate in the future!